What To Do If Your Online Reputation Stinks
Ten or fifteen years ago, it was considered more than a little creepy if people knew that you “Googled” them to find out more information.
These days, it is standard operating procedure, and is expected.
In fact, if you have a job interview and you did not search for more information on the person interviewing you, and on the company you will be interviewing at, you may be perceived as not really interested in the job.
The folks involved may think that you are uninformed.
In addition, rest assured that when you apply for a job, you will be Googled before being offered a job interview.
So if you find that you are not getting calls for a job interview, even though you have great work experience that shows a pattern of success, it could be your online profile.
Some of the things that can contribute to a negative online reputation
If you have an ordinary and common name, like John Smith or Juan Martinez or Lisa Jones, your online profile may be affected by what other people with your name do. Of course, in many cases, people Googling you might realize that there are many people with your name, and not jump to conclusions because they understand that.
Some people might think that the John Smith with the arrest record a mile long is you, which is why it is important to have positive things to show a good reputation (we will explain in a minute how to do that.)
Some of the things that can give you a negative online profile include:
- Pictures on Instagram, Facebook or Twitter of you drinking, smoking marijuana, or making a fool of yourself. Be smart enough not to put them up, and if a friend does, make sure you are untagged.
- Racist, offensive, or just weird online comments on social media and web sites. Many web sites, like newspaper sites, can have you log in and make comments with your Facebook account. That is not a good idea if you want to wade into controversial topics. Look at how Paula Deen’s career was recently destroyed thanks to something she said 25 years ago. You don’t want to have a paper trail online that makes the employer think twice. These days, employers are so skittish about lawsuits, they don’t want to take a chance if you look like a loose cannon.
- Getting into online fights and flame wars. It doesn’t matter if you are 100% right. You will still look argumentative, and could be a big turnoff.
- Having gotten into real-life trouble, like being arrested (even if you were not convicted, the arrest record may still be online.)
- Being the target of an online vendetta by an ex-friend or ex-lover. Whether their complaints are legitimate or not, this could hurt you.
There are a variety of things you can do to improve your online reputation:
One is to try to get as many negative things removed as possible.
- Start with your own posts and comments, and see what you can do in order to get other locations to take down the information.
- Contact owners of sites where other users have generated negative content about you, and ask them to delete it.
The second thing you can do is to create positive things that will make you shine.
- You can set up a website about you that you want to impress others with.
- Keep your own social media profiles updated and 'clean.'
The more positive things are out there on you, the more the bad things will be moved down and off the first page of Google.
If you are not sure what to do, or want to get professional assistance, talk to a web marketing company with an SEO guarantee that can help. To get a free consultation and an SEO guarantee, click here.
Lisa Swan writes for a variety of SEO and computing sites. She lives in New York City.
Ralf Skirr's comment: This reputation article might seem out of place on an internet business blog, given that it talks about how a bad rep can be an obstacle when looking for a job.
But all the points mentioned are right on spot when looking at reputation management for small businesses.
Small business owners often promote their business via their Facebook profile. Their personality and their business aren't as separated as it is the case with huge companies. If you're a biz owner it's crucial that you keep all points mentioned above in mind. Check what's 'out there' about you, and – if necessary – clean up the mess.
It's also a good idea to prepare a simple social media crisis plan about what to do if a reputation nightmare would ever happen.